During an interview with Tucker Carlson that aired on Tuesday night, President Trump blatantly lied about NATO, claiming the United States covers 90 percent of the costs of the alliance.
“We’re not going to pay 90 percent of the cost to defend Europe,” Trump said, echoing attacks on the alliance he recently made before and during the NATO summit in Belgium.
Trump’s claim is a brazen lie. The United States, which spends more than twice as much on defense as the second biggest-spending country in the world (China), currently covers about 22 percent of the cost of NATO.
But Trump’s lie about NATO illustrates how he uses repetition to launder lies. Before he left for the NATO summit last week, Trump tweeted that “By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO.”
…Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2018
Trump then made the same false “90 percent” claim during a news conference held at the end of the summit. The source of Trump’s fake numbers is unknown.
After lying to Carlson about NATO funding, Trump expressed profound confusion about the very purpose of the alliance.
“Membership in NATO obligates the members to defend any other member who has been attacked,” Carlson said to him. “Let’s say Montenegro — which joined last year — is attacked. Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?”
Trump suggested he shouldn’t.
Trump says he's bothered by provisions of NATO that require the US to come to the defense of other member countries. pic.twitter.com/2xY1FjBTSn
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 18, 2018
“I understand what you’re saying. I’ve asked the same question,” Trump said. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people… they might get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War 3.”
Though the president seems to think NATO is about the American military protecting Europe from Russia, the entire purpose of NATO is that member countries defend each other.
This is something former President Ronald Reagan understood. In 1988, Reagan said “our first priority is to maintain a strong and healthy partnership between North America and Europe… We will never sacrifice the interests of this partnership in any agreement with the Soviet Union.”
In fact, since NATO alliance was founded in 1949, the only time the treaty’s collective defense article was invoked was following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.